May 31 in Russian history

I am really sorry for not writing for so long. I was very busy at work and I had to part with the company's notebook I used to write the articles :). Now that I have somehow got rid of the most time-consuming projects, I continue.

1223: Battle of the Kalka river. This was the first time when Russians met the Mongol armies. The river is named Kalmius now and the battle took place not far from the modern city Mariupol. The area was inhabited for more than 150,000 years, when the earliest stone tools of the Acheulean culture are found along the river banks. Now, the river has turned into a sewer ditch. In 1223, the messengers from Polovtsian nomads came to Rus and asked to protect them from the unknown invaders. Mongols at the moment were not inclined to attack Russia and they also sent their emissaries, asking Russians not to interfere into the conflict of Mongols and Polovtsians. Knyaz of Kiev Mstislav ordered to kill the Mongol ambassadors and decided to attack the enemy. Russian knyazes had no idea about the numbers of the invaders and acted carelessly. Some knyazes joined the campaign, others were too busy to spend their precious time. They quickly defeated a reconnaissance team, chased them and were met on a river bank by main Mongol forces, which counted up to 30,000 people. The knyazes were not sure what to do. Some of them preferred to stay on the opposite bank and wait for the Mongols to attempt to cross the river, while others (Daniil of Galich, Mstislav the Brave and Polovtsians) decided to attack. The battle was lost and the Russians fled. Mongols followed them. Mongols surrounded the Russian camp and proposed to give up. When they gave up (what did they hope for after the murder of the ambassadors?) six knyazes were executed by Mongols. Wooden boards were put onto their bodies and they suffocated slowly while the Mongols feasted on the dais. Quite naturally, Genghis Khan liked the easy victory and soon came to Russia with an even larger army.

1891: The construction of the Transsiberian Railroad begins in Vladivostok, on the Far East of Russia. The railroad was built from the east westwards.

1918: One more smart decision of the Bolsheviks -- they introduce the compulsory mixed education. Some psychologists say that this was a "tragic error", arguing that the mixed education makes boys behave more like girls. I always knew that psychology is a pseudo-science. And even if they are right, the advantages of mixed education, in my opinion, overweigh. If you don't believe me, ask Henry Moore :). In 1943, the separate education was re-introduced by Stalin, but after his death, in 1954, mixed education was brought back.

1924: USSR and China sign the Agreement on common principles for solving problems between the USSR and the Chinese republic. Diplomatic relations are established, unjust treaties of the tsarist government are annulled, the Chinese Eastern Railway becomes a joint commercial enterprise. This was the first equitable treaty of China with a European country.

1937: Alexander Kuprin returns to the USSR from emigration. Kuprin was an outstanding writer, the author of many brilliant short stories and some novels. He was born in 1870. His father was a minor government official. He played violin and was a good painter. Kuprin's mother belonged to a poor, but noble Tatar family, and Kuprin was always proud of being, at least partially, a Tatar. In 1880, he entered a military school (Cadet Corps). The school life gave him a lot of material for his novel The Cadets. In 1894 he retires from the army and becomes a newspaper reporter in Kiev and... an adventurer. He travelled to Moscow, Donetsk and back to Kiev. He founded a circus and worked as a manager in an estate, a dentist and a land surveyor (remember Henry Thoreau?!). He writes magnificent stories Moloch and Olesya. In 1895, Maxim Gorky invited him to write for Samarskaya Gazeta newspaper in Samara. Kuprin published one story in the newspaper and left again. In 1901 he moves to St.Petersburg and writes The Horse Thieves, The Duel and The Garnet Bracelet. Many famous Russian writers admired his works. Leo Tolstoy called him "the true successor of Chekhov", Vladimir Nabokov insisted that Kuprin was "the Russian Kipling", Anton Chekhov also praised him. In 1917, after the revolution, Kuprin spent some time in the USSR, where Gorky protected him, but soon left and joined the counter-revolutionary White Guard and worked in a newspaper published by the army of Yudenich. Soon he left to Helsinki and Paris. Of course, the Soviet critics who admired him while he lived in the Soviet Russia, turned to hatred as soon as he had left. Libraries received orders to burn Kuprin's books. Lenin's wife Krupskaya personally controlled the elimination of all writings by Kuprin. And then, in 1937, quite suddenly, the hatred stops. Why? Kuprin has returned. He was poor and his life in Paris was very hard and he fell ill with cancer, and the Soviet envoys promised him a free apartment, free villa, free medical care, etc. (free wine was, probably, also include -- Kupring got used to the alcohol by these years). At last he agreed. He was allowed to take his cat Yu-Yu, but not his cherished library. There was a rumour in Paris that he was made drunk. Soviet newspapers hypocritically wrote that his stories are the favourite reading of the Soviet people. His books were translated into tens of languages of the USSR, theaters staged his plays (which he himself considered rather weak). By this time, he was already dying. One year later, in 1938, he died from the tongue cancer.

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